Have you ever been in a situation where you think you know what you are to do and find out later that what you were told was not interpreted correctly? How about not understanding someone at all, no matter how hard you both try?
These are the situations you run into far more often than you even know. At work, you ask people to do something and find out only later that things were not done as you wished because the instructions were not interpreted as they were intended. I read a blog post today that also covered the topic of communication for leadership and thought it has some great points. The best advice I can think of is to just ask if you’re understood, but not outright, because people will generally say yes, even when they do not. Ask a probing question or two to determine if someone has understood you.
Another problem with communication is that, with an infinite number of people come an infinite number of experiences because we are all unique in this arena, and even identical twins will have different experiences in life. This creates our own understanding of situations and the world at large which guide us in certain directions with the way we do things. This is again where the importance of asking a couple probing questions comes in because the instructions may be simple and even spoken clearly, but the rascal of experience always plays with our understanding.
At the Democratic National Convention this year, the news media stated that only Bill Clinton could make a difficult subject, such as the economy or budgeting, simple. This is something he has done very well, from his first campaigns through his time as president. The note here is that we have to make things as clear as possible, whether or not someone may think our IQ is less, because we need to reach as many as possible as leaders. In doing so, we need to be quite certain that our language and method of speech is able to be understood by as many as possible, not just those with doctorate degrees.
Keep things simple and ask probing questions for understanding, recipe to clear communication. We can never be 100% clear to 100% of the populace, but if we can get to the great majority, we are already several steps ahead for higher productivity and cohesion in our organizations as leaders. More tips can be found in this article about the same subject.
As always, I’m interested in what you think! Examples from your own life, what you have seen, what you have been involved with in similar situations and the ways to improve it are always sought to increase our knowledge about leadership.